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The Value of Community

October 18th, 2008

When you’re stuck with a programming, installation, or other similar problem your closest friend is usually Google. But, as many of you already know, having a friend that is expert in an area can in many cases lead to solving your problem lot quicker than “googling” for an answer. Friend can usually point you to the right track or give you the straight answer immediately. Now, imagine that you have thousands of friends that you can exchange information with, take or give advice, find a solution to your problem, etc. That is what community is.

So for example if you want to find an answer to your question which is very specific you can usually find an IRC channel related to the area and ask somebody of experts that are usually on there. You can use Freenode network which provides discussion facilities for the Free and Open Source Software communities. The network currently has nearly 50,000 users. IRC server address is irc.freenode.net. On IRC server you can find channels with vibrant communities in areas such as web development, programming languages, design, operating systems, etc.

My personal experience with it was like this: I had a css problem on which I lost nearly 4 hours. I joined #css channel, asked a question and found a guy that managed to help me in a matter of minutes. I sent him a few screenshots, he recommended me to change some stuff and it worked.

So, get yourself a good IRC client (XChat is fine, free, and it comes with a list of popular IRC servers among which is freenode) and start discussing.

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